As the Spin Tunes #4

Today is a big day. The SpinTunes competition is starting Round 2. Now, these posts about Spin Tunes are usually about my past experience as a judge but I feel that it’s necessary to take a look at the future of this competition to get a whole picture. Also I’m going to be doing some reviews of the songs here too, so why not start looking at the newest version of SpinTunes now?

I’m not a judge this time around and I’m okay with that, though if Spin would’ve asked I would’ve agreed to judge again. But then again, Gift of Music does start up next week, so it’s good to have some focus on that. It’s an interesting group of judges for SpinTunes 2. There’s SpinTunes #1’s winner Kevin Savino-Riker. (Does anyone else smile at the fact that Riker is #1? Yes, my nerddom is showing.) Then there’s Dr. Lindyke, they were the guys who wrote that blog judging the judges. Oh, it will be very interesting now that the shoe is on the other foot. There’s Jeff MacDougal who was a runner up in Masters of Song-Fu, losing out to that Code Monkey Creepy Doll Ikea guy. There’s someone who I know nothing about, Zack Scott, and if you google him, odd things appear. The last is someone I know very well- Glennny. He’s a member of Berkeley Social Scene/ Zinkline. I work with him on music once a year and he’s a great guy. When it comes to music, he is a wiz when it comes to the technical stuff, so these groups had best know how to play.

Speaking of groups, let’s see who is in the field this time around:

Edric Haleen– He was in ST#1 and he brings the broadway. He’s got a lot of skill when it comes to crafting songs which makes him an early favorite. The question is will all 5 judges appreciate his over the top style.

Charlie Wolf– Not to be confused with Songfight’s Charles Wolff (aka King Arthur), Charlie Wolf makes “intelligent folk music” and his sound would fit perfectly in New York’s antifolk scene. His songs are solid but his vocal style leaves a bit to be desired.

JoAnn Abbott– She took part in ST#1 and her subplot was this was part of her journey of growing as an artist. She’s not a favorite to win it because she’s still got some growing to do but it is going to be fascinating listening to her progression.

Emporer Gum– Another ST#1 return and he likes to bring the avant-garde and experimental to the contest. It should make for interesting results but as an artist who likes to experiment, I’ll tell you- not every experiment is a success and that’s the risk you take.

Brian Gray– Brian Gray is very new to making original music, having only finished his first song in 2009. Now he’s going to challenge himself with SpinTunes. ST may not have the breakneck pace of the Nur Ein but it is going to put this “nerd rock” musician through his paces.

Heather Miller– Another return from ST#1, in that competition she brought all sorts of different things to the table but they all landed her in the middle of the pack. I think she’s yet to have a real breakout song but I can see it happening soon.

Boffo Yux Dudes– They bring the funny at all times. Do their jokes hit with all audiences? No, but that’s the thing with all comedy music. I seriously can’t wait to hear their response to the 1st round challenge- a song about your hometown.

Inverse T. Clown– He has got a great image. Sometimes I think music on the internet lacks those nuances. He’s got a cool dark look and it seems to match his music style (though I have heard some variation from him too). It’s cool to have an intriguing character in the pack.

Governing Dynamics– He returns and last time, he was the big practitioner when it came to bringing the rock (which I appreciated greatly). I don’t know if I’d say that GD is a favorite in the field but he’s the one I’m most looking forward to hearing.

Austin Criswell: I like his viewpoint on things. He doesn’t wanna be famous, he just wants to be heard. You found the right place, AC. You surely will be heard. And he’s got quite a powerful voice that needs to be heard.

Danny Blackwell: Blackwell did a shadow song in ST#1 and showed off a lot of potential with his Spanish style guitar playing and quirky lyrical choices. He may be the big surprise of ST#2.

Steve Durand: Songfight’s resident king of the horns is back for another go at SpinTunes and he’ll do well because he has this uncanny gift for finding was to fit his horn-playing ingeniously  into whatever song he does. I’m convinced he could go metal and still find a way to play the horns well.

Chas Lilly: His voice reminds me a bit of Daniel Johns back in the day. There’s a lot of youth in there. His style mixes some rock with some humor. He’s a longshot in the competition but I’ve gotta appreciate someone who can cover Flaming Lips though.  

Common Lisp: Things I know about Common Lisp- he collaborates with Joe “Covenant” Lamb (who was a fellow ST#1 judge), he seems to really really like Jonathan Coulton, he’s weak with the vocals but he’s smart with the lyrics.

Ross Durand: The other half of Durand Durand is back again. He was the runner up in ST#1 and you’ll find out my feelings on that in another edition of As The Spin Tunes. A clear-cut favorite in the pack. He knows his way around a catchy tune and making one quickly, having done over 100 Songfight songs.

Via Sattelite: I’m pretty sure that they were supposed to be in ST#1. That’s just about all I know except that they collaborate across the country from Michigan to Arizona.

Katharine Speller: She’s a New Yorker, I have to root for her. Wait, she’s from Upstate? Oh, that doesn’t count. That would be like rooting for the Buffalo Bills. What New Yorker does that? :P. But seriously, she’s a youngin with some decent music skills. Let’s see if she can keep up with the pack.

Ben Walker: This guy has the polish. He definitely has all his stuff together and is going to be a force to be reckoned with in this competition. I’m hearing him for the first time today and I’m already becoming a fan. This is some good stuff.

Josh Salway: He has definitely got the guitar skills. But he has only been singing seriously for less than a year. Will he be the complete package or will his splintered skillset be his detriment?

David Ritter: He’s doing a 52 in 52 deal (a song a week). What a perfect way to do it. He was gonna be making some new songs anyway. He seems to enjoy the humorous lyrics but he’s got some tricks up his sleeves (as shown by his pair of Songfight songs).

Swatshots: Your name sounds dirty. I know zero about them other than the fact they are Illinois college students. Complete wildcard.

Bryce Jensen: He did an odd shadow song back in the first round of ST#1. I didn’t like the song at all but I had to enjoy the fact that he wrote a song about Firestorm, my favorite split personality superhero. The song was awfully cheesy but c’mon, it’s Firestorm.

Ominous Ride: Another newcomer to the SpinTunes. They have one of those fake band bios where they tell the long story of their existence but it’s really a piece of fiction. So I don’t know squat about them. Oh, they have a myspace, I think. That’s so 2008.

James Connor: Newcomer whom I know almost zero about. He’s got a photo that says “The Drake Equation” which tells me that James Connor is actually an alien or an exobiologist. I’m betting on the former.

wait What?: Not to be confused with Wait What, the mashup DJ; this wait What? is a trio who are a part of the mysterious White Elephant project. Not a fan. Maybe they’ll surprise me.

a somber afternoon: A pair of teenage girls with quirky names like Mio & Yasmeen. That’s all I know. Oh and something about a hamster. Crazy kids and their kooky ways.

Beka: She’s got a jazz piano background so she’s got some technical skills. Maybe she can morph old jazz songs into new ones like how Deep Purple took an Astrud Gilberto and Gil Evans song and made “Smoke on the Water”. But definitely her style is more Sara Bareilles. The influence there is undeniable.

Chris Cogott: He did very well in Nur Ein 5 and now he’s stepping up to try his luck at Spin Tunes 2. He’s got a great rock sound and has shown his ability to handle challenges well, so I’m going to have to put him in the favorites to win column.

Zarni: The talent in this woman is off the charts. I don’t know if she has ever had to handle the challenge of doing a competition like SpinTunes but she’s got this South African Fiona Apple thing going that is going to take her far in this competition if she can keep up.

Duality: The dark horse of the competition. You have Joe “Covenant” Lamb (one of ST#1’s judges) teamed up with the ever-wonderfully-eccentric Denise Hudson and you get something that will probably defy clearcut explanations. I can’t wait to hear what this transatlantic duo can do.

Russ Rogers: One half of Godz Poodlz returns for another try at SpinTunes greatness. I liked when Godz Poodlz showed the 80’s new wave in them. But they seem to be another band who can bring different things to the table with every song. I wonder if that will endear the judges or detach them?

Ryan “Ruff” Smith: His name might be Ruff but his sound isn’t. It’s decent acoustic rock and it’s the kind of thing that you’d usually find in an internet musician. It’s good but will it stand out in a big field like this one? 

Charlie McCarron: I felt that his songs were the most polarizing in ST#1. There’s no denying that he’s got great technical skill but he makes musical choices that either you think are brilliant or you are completely put off by them.

Mitchell Adam Johnson: I heard his music on myspace yesterday (I think yesterday was the most I’ve been on myspace in a year) and he is deeply fixed in a retro vibe. He’s knows his Pet Sounds. He was probably weened on the White Album. This guy is a complete anachronism and that’s a nice change of pace within this field.

Gweebol: Wha? Huh?

And that’s the field for SpinTunes #2. I’m a little sad to see that there are not more Songfighters involved in the competition. I hoped that my involvement last time as well as Ross Durand’s excellent showing would have coerced some more Songfighters into playing along. Still, it is nice to see what a vast field that ST#2 has amassed. Will they all show up for Round 1? We’ll see. I hope so.

So, what’s my prediction for ST#2…. It’s hard to say. There are all sorts of x-factors that go along with a competition like this. But if I had to wager a guess, I’d say a final round between the veteran Edric Haleen and the newcomer Ben Walker. But with so many good bands in this time, I could be completely wrong. Good luck ‘Tuners.

(And I just may do a little shadowing this time around…)

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7 Responses to “As the Spin Tunes #4”

  1. Denise Hudson Says:

    Please do a shadow! That’d be great! I’d love to hear it! I’ve already downloaded your album 🙂 more please 🙂

  2. This is a really nice primer, Niveous! I might be calling upon you for advice soon, as I’m afraid that this whole judging thing could be a bit overwhelming…

    Also… I hadn’t made the “#1” connection – awesome!

    Hoping we hear a shadow from you this time around 🙂

  3. Getting some shadows from you would be awesome.

    Overall this was a really cool way to get people revved up for the contest, so thanks.

    I wish there were more song fighters involved as well. I’m very happy Ross & Steve are back though. Maybe next time more will sign up, and hopefully some of the SpinTuners & of Song Fuers will try out Song Fight & Nur Ein like Denise & Graham have.

    You mentioned Ross has over 100 Song Fight songs, but I think Steve is sitting at 98? With the collabs he has been a part of he would be over 100 as well.

  4. I think SpinTown making me a judge was his cruel form of revenge. That said, I look forward to having the shoe on the other foot, as I’ve been wearing my left on my right (and vice versa) for too long!

    Great summary, Niveous! It mirrors my thoughts to an extent that I shouldn’t admit to as a fair an unbalanced judge. On the one hand, I’m really jazzed about the calibre of talent in this competition! On the other, I look at the size of the field and realize I’ve actually got to critique a bunch of people who’s instruments I’m not qualified to tune. If they do half as well as I expect of them, this will be the most pleasant onerous task I’ve ever had.

  5. Nice Niveous, thanks for the great summaries on everyone. I hope we do get some shadows from you, that would be awesome!

  6. Thanks for the tip! I’ll do my best to live up to the challenge…

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